Mumbai Diary: Thursday theme

The city — sliced, diced and served with a dash of sauce

In praise of the water angel
With water on everyone’s mind, it was nice to see Avan Yazad Nu Parab celebrated in the city. A few days after Zoroastrians (Parsis and Iranis) celebrated their new year, Jamshedji Navroze, Bawajis as they are fondly called were seen flocking towards their famous stone pillars at Marine Drive and the Bhikha Behram Well near Churchgate on the occasion of the birthday of the Water Angel.

The pillars at Marine Drive
The pillars at Marine Drive

‘Avan Yazad’ is considered as the angel who presides over water, and thus according to the Zoroastrian Calendar, the day that falls on Avan Mahino (month) and Avan Roj (day) is celebrated as the angel’s birthday. On this day, Zoroastrians make it a point to visit any flowing water body and make their offerings of prayers, flowers and coconuts to the angel who is said to keep the material world full of life and prosperity.

This day is also of great significance to expectant mothers as it is said that the angel helps in the easy and complication-free deliveries. To protect the water from getting polluted, a few locals usually enter the water and gather up all the flowers and coconut offerings after they have touched the waves.

“Nothing can survive and exist without water and thus, ‘Avan Yazad’ carries great importance and relevance. Parsis do not worship water directly, but it is considered as a medium through which we show our gratitude and worship Ahura Mazda (the Lord),” said Parsi priest Pervez Bajan.

For a slice of Samovar
Ever since news that Café Samovar will be shutting down on March 31 made headlines in the city, people have been lining up outside the iconic eatery to savour one last indulgence of the mood, vibe, and the food, of course. When we decided to drop by, we were shocked to be a part of long, winding queue for a table. Finally, we got ours after a 30-minute wait.

In its last few days of existence, Samovar is the place to be
In its last few days of existence, Samovar is the place to be

Around us, SoBo socialites with their Pradas and Givenchys didn’t seem to mind the non-air-conditioned environs, even if the mercury rose to 40 degree Celsius outside! Families could be heard telling their kids stories about the place while office goers were in for a rude shock if they imagined being able to whisk away a working lunch.

An upcoming actress tried her best to get the attendant to recall, ‘aapka popular vegetarian baaji’. Harried at the endless crowds, he seemed in no mood to entertain her request, suggested a few options, and moved on to take orders at the next table. Deveika Bhojwani was there too catching up with familiar faces.

At another end, a TV crew set up shop and was inviting old-timers to hit the rewind button. A woman who seemed to be a part of a Facebook group for Café Samovar was requesting patrons to share their thoughts on the space. From the menu, our votes went for the Mutton Cutlets Lunch and the Chicken Biryani (portions still intact, thankfully).

Sadly, there was no mint tea and when we asked for seconds for the mutton cutlets and biryani, it was sold out. Despite the jostle and buzz, we couldn’t miss the hint of sadness mixed with celebration as the iconic eatery spends its last days in this avatar. And for once, the galleries were practically deserted as all eyes and footfalls were at Samovar.

Oh really, Mr Minister?
Union Minister of State for Environment, Forests and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar was all “Modi government rah rah, previous government bah bah”, while talking about environment issues at a meet held at the Indian Merchants Chamber (Churchgate) on Tuesday evening.

Prakash Javadekar explains at the IMC Mumbai. Pic/Atul Kamble
Prakash Javadekar explains at the IMC Mumbai. Pic/Atul Kamble

The minister was talking to a packed Walchand Hirachand Hall, about `balancing environment with development’ especially relevant, when it comes to Mumbai, with both these factors in perennial battle. Javadekar, though struck an upbeat note with him saying that he does not fathom why these two aspects are contradictory and actually go together.

Applause, applause from the audience. He said that his priority was to clear the misconception that the Environment Ministry, is a ‘roadblock’ ministry. Which meant that it keeps stalling projects, but Javadekar listed out a number of projects that have been cleared and files are moving quickly he claimed.

He cited especially, the speed at which defence projects had been cleared saying, “if the country is safe, then the environment is safe.” The interactive session saw some participants bristling as they asked why he claimed that a coastal road would de-congest the city.

Another gentleman said money for the coastal road should be diverted to public transport instead. Another asked why our traffic cops are not being given masks as they stand amidst heavy pollution, but the Minister stated that it is not masks, but lessening air pollution that was the solution.

He had to calm a lady from South Mumbai who stated that he was talking about environment, but the reality in SoBo was quite different, where mammoth projects affecting greenery are being planned. He told another lady asking a question, “do not get excited.”

In the end, there were so many questions and not enough time, so he asked people to write in to: mefcc@gov.in with their queries. Well, click on, Mumbai.

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